As the Black Gate watch warned you, Joe Bonadonna’s Mad Shadows series had a recent release (Book III: The Heroes of Echo Gate). So it is timely to review the entire series, and for that esteemed author Andrew Paul Weston steps up. Incidentally, Mr. Weston is no stranger to Black Gate, or Hell for that matter (check out his Bio below). So I pass the microphone over to him so he can recap each entry.
Mad Shadows I: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser
Dorgo Mikawber is a resident of the city of Valdar, a cesspit with as many cutthroats, remorseless killers and femme fatales as there are minotaurs, centaurs, fawns, and dwarves. Dorgo himself is a lovable rogue, and ex soldier, down on his luck, who sails close to the wind and only just manages to stay this side of the law as an investigator of all things “strange” – a position he finds himself in after being gifted a magical dowsing rod from a Yongarloo shaman. With it, he runs afoul of warlocks, wizards, witches, werewolves…oh yes, and mad scientists from other dimensions.
This makes for an entertaining set of adventures presented in one book as a series of sequential mini-sagas. (A novel approach that I personally found worked well). Dorgo is a lovable character, gifted with a dry sense of humor, and his down-to-earth approach was a pleasure to get involved with.
If you enjoy magical mystery and mystical mayhem – you’ll absolutely love Mad Shadows. Highly recommended.
Mad Shadows II: Dorgo the Dowser and the Order of the Serpent
Murder, mystery, mishap and mayhem. You’ll find all this and more as Dorgo Mikawber returns in Joe Bonadonna’s latest fantasy adventure.
Dorgo Mikawber is everybody’s favorite rogue; a finger in every pie, sailing close to the wind ex mercenary, who now spends his days eking out a living investigating the magical and macabre, thanks in the main to his marvelous dowsing rod, a tool capable of detecting most forms of odylic power.
The thing is, our supernatural sleuth seems to act as a lodestone for bad luck and spends most of his time falling afoul of the servants of evil.
In this latest adventure, it doesn’t take long for Dorgo to stumble upon a vicious spate of deathly double dealing that leaves a trail of dead bodies, hideously disfigured citizens and unanswered questions in its wake. And it all seems to center about a book that no one dare read, the “Book of Echoes” and someone called Ophidious Garloo.
But how might the two be connected? Who is the elusive Ophidious Garloo? And why would someone want to possess a book so determined to protect its secrets? Are these mysteries in any way connected to something called, “The Order of the Serpents?”
One thing’s for sure, whether he wants to or not, Dorgo’s going to be in the thick of it finding out. But will he survive this time?
Mad Shadows II: a most entertaining journey through the sinister streets of Valdar, and beyond, where familiar characters welcome you home, invite you in and encourage you to stay.
But dare you?
I can honestly say, I absolutely loved it. (I’ll see you down at the Hoof and Horn…)
Mad Shadows III: Heroes of Echo Gate
I’ve been looking forward to the latest Mad Shadows adventure for quite a while now. And I’m glad to say, Dorgo Mikawber’s company is just as enjoyable as ever. He’s a true friend. Down-to-earth. Pragmatic – most of the time – and just the kind of person you want by your side when the end of the world comes upon you . . . as it inevitably does when he’s around. Here’s the blurb from this latest adventure to prepare you for what’s in store:
During an arduous and dangerous trek through the Scarlet Desert in search of the fabled Well of Tears, Dorgo the Dowser and his companions accidentally uncover an ancient artifact buried for eons beneath the blood-colored sand. After a harrowing, action-packed journey through the desert they find the Well of Tears, the repository of God’s tears, and there encounter the ghosts of the Sisters of the Blue Light, the Guardians of the Well. The nuns tell them about the relic of antiquity they found: it is a thing of cosmic evil — a thing not of their world, a thing which must be destroyed. But the answer to destroying that artifact is a riddle Dorgo and his companions must discover for themselves.
When the Spirit trapped inside the artifact is set free by one of their companions, Dorgo and the others learn that the evil now threatens not only their world, but all the Otherworlds of the multi-dimensional Echoverse. The key to destroying this evil is somehow tied in with the demons seeking to control Echo Gate — the master portal that leads not only to every world in the Echoverse, but through Space and Time, as well. As a great battle erupts on the island of Thavarar, where Echo Gate is located, Dorgo and his companions must unravel the mystery of the thing they found in the desert, and discover the means by which it can be destroyed.
Yes, life is never dull around Dorgo. And that’s a good thing, for not only do we delve more deeply into the history of the Echoverse and the worlds incorporated within it, but we learn more about the origins of Echo Gate itself and the role it plays in the greater scheme of things.
Joe Bonadonna has a vivid imagination, which, incorporated into his unique writing style presents us with a fast paced, action packed extravaganza, filled with battles, double-crosses, puzzle solving and suspense galore.
I really enjoyed it. The interplay between characters is engaging; the story arc builds toward a ‘will they-won’t they’ crescendo (because main characters do die – kudos there); and there’s just the right amount irony and self-denial among our heroes and heroines to keep things real.
Great fun and easy to read.
Andrew Paul Weston
Andrew P. Weston is Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats. An astronomy and criminal law graduate, he is the creator of the internationally acclaimed IX Series, along with Hell Bound, Hell Hounds, and Hell Gate, (Novels forming part of Janet Morris’ critically celebrated Heroes in Hell shared universe). Andrew also has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Science Fiction Association, British Fantasy Society, and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.